Pay to play is the way
Pay to play. A very popular phrase among the 21st century businesses. Too bad no one taught the kids who were picked last in kickball this term. They might have actually not been picked last.
Paying to play has become an instrumental technique in this wild and crazy informational era we live in. Content is thrown in front of us at speeds faster than an major league pitcher could ever reach. Which means we need to find new and creative ways to grab the attention of the attention depleted and semi-annoyed consumer.
Besides being creative and demanding attention, paying for it is very much an acceptable and strategic move on our parts. The people yearning for the attention.
What’s the best way to pay to play?
How do we best execute the pay to play strategy to get in front of the people who need our services or products?
There are a lot of choices, but I have compiled the 5 best places to use as part of your pay to play model. In this aaamazing post, we will review each channel along with a few easy tips you can use right away to effectively get in front of the people you serve.
Without further ado…the top 5 pay to play outlets.
1. Google AdWords Search Network
You know when you search for shoes, diapers, restaurants, weight loss programs or software you get a string of search results. Planted at the very top in the first 3 spots are the advertisements that look like search results, but have the little yellow box to the left that says Ad. Then there a long list of 10 mini listing ads on the right hand side…those are the search ads.
The search ads are the longest tenure and still very effective online advertising channel. There is no denying how effective these ads are, but at what costs.
They are and can be really freaking expensive. I just typed into the Google Keyword Planner keywords: real estate agent and real estate broker.
The keyword real estate agent was estimated to be around $7.72 a click. A CLICK!
Real estate broker was $17.32 a click. WHAT?! That’s ridonculous.
And it really depends on your business because the keyword pizza delivery austin is $4.45 a click. Pizza delivery san francisco comes in at $3.31 a click.
The market and keyword depend on the click. $3.31 and $4.45 are not horribly expensive, but compared to the cost of a click on Facebook being around $0.53 to as high as $1.38. I haven’t really seen anything higher than $1.50, yet.
$3, $4, and $17 a click is light years ahead of the cost on Facebook.
But there are ways to get a really good return on your investment while not paying the highest cost per click on Google. If you create highly focused ads with highly focused keywords with highly focused landing pages that convert…then you will see your quality score go up, click through rates go up, and cost per clicks go down.
That’s right…Google rewards you for having highly clickable ads with high quality scores. The reward being a lower cost than a competitor with a lower quality score and click through rate to be a the top of the ads.
So, if you choose to give the AdWords search ads a try…do your research and spend time setting everything up on the backend before you launch. Create a plan and a strategy. Make sure to test your sales funnel. You will save yourself a ton of money and time.
In conclusion… AdWords is still a very effective outlet for the pay to play model. Most people are ready to buy in search ads. The true success is what you do after people visit your site or opt-in.
2. Google AdWords Display Network
Google AdWords Display Network is a secret weapon, in my opinion. Not a whole lot of people know about the capabilities or take advantage of the opportunities with the Display Network ads.
Let me give you a quick breakdown. Google’s Display Network has partner sites that they distribute advertisements to. Some of the partner sites include Google properties such as Google Finance, Gmail, Google Maps, Blogger, as well as over one million Web, video, gaming, and mobile display partners. Other partner websites include Inc. Magazine, ESPN, Wall Street Journal, and more.
The ads are displayed as text, various banner images, and even some animation ads.
The magnificent part of the Display Network is that you can create highly targeted ads based on data from the internet to target your audience on the websites they are spending time on. And I’m not talking about remarketing.
I’m saying you can create ads going after mom’s or business consultants and place ads on the websites/blog they are reading and consuming information on.
You only pay for the click, which can be relatively low in comparison to some keywords. However, the clicks and impressions will be lower than the search network.
The clicks will be more qualified because it is highly targeted. If you choose to go the banner image route, you do have to create a number of image size variations because there are so many options.
Anyway, not to geek out too much…but if you are looking for untapped resource, this is a great avenue to explore. You do need to plan, strategize, and put some work into the image creation. However, if you have a good game plan with a strong sales funnel.
You are prime to get some major return on your investment.
3. Facebook Advertising
Facebook advertising is the place to be right now. And as time goes on, it’s only going to become more popular, which means more expensive because their will be more bidders and higher bids on the ads.
If you want to start advertising on it, the time is now. The cost is still lower than the AdWords options. The amazing part of Facebook is the different options you have…mixed with the endless amount of data they have on the targeting options.
Facebook has data not just from their site, but from the millions of other sites that have the Sign In with Facebook button. The advertising targeting data is aggregated from every corner of the internet. Talk about powerful.
If you want to target men between the ages of 34 to 43 who live in 20 mile radius of Boston that have an income of $50k to $150k that are single and have a high purchasing behavior. You can.
For realtors…fuhgeddaboudit. The targeting options are even scarier. You can target people who are likely to buy a home soon or potential new homebuyers.
Scary, I know. But ultra effective nonetheless.
The targeting is extremely specific, which means your ads have to match it. The advertising options range from ads on the right column of Facebook to Dark Posts, which are ads that look like Facebook posts, but don’t show up in your Facebook page’s wall as a post. They are only seen by the target audience you created.
You have new options now like Facebook Leads, which allows you to gather leads for something in return like a guide, coupon, or such with one click. They stole that from Twitter who stole that from Amazon’s one click buy button.
The advertising options continue. But perhaps, that is another posts. What you need to know is that no matter who your customer is…everyone is on Facebook. It would be advantageous of you to at least test the different ad options on Facebook.
People are making a living on the Facebook Ads along. One line of caution, with something that is so powerful it does not come easy to be uber successful. Take it from experience, you can’t just create an ad, find a niche target, and expect money and leads to be flowing through the doors.
It’s a complicated medium to use because of all the options and the psychology of people on Facebook. My recommendation is to do two things. First, set aside money to gamble with. Second, invest in some training or hire a Facebook Advertising consultant to help you. Make sure the consultant knows what they are doing. Have them do a test run with you or ask for references.
As low cost as the ads are, you are still susceptible to lose money if you don’t invest it wisely and have a plan. Like an advertisement. Even with the risks, the rewards can be enormous.
4. Twitter Advertising
Twitter advertising has opportunity oozing out of every crevice. Might sound disgusting, but it’s true.
On Twitter, the costs range. It’s not as clear cut as Facebook or Google because of their options. The audiences are more targeted than Google AdWords search network and almost as rich in data as Facebook.
Twitter has come a long way. I was just looking at the behavior data…it has gone up 10 levels since six months ago.
For some people, Twitter works better than Facebook ads. Again, it comes back to your audience and the targeting you setup.
Some quick highlights of Twitter ads…you have the lead card option or the one-click advertising option. Remember, Facebook stole it from Twitter. Twitter allows you to offer people something special in exchange for their email address with just one click.
You can target people to engage with a tweet. You can target people by upcoming events such as sporting events, conferences, and so on. The opportunities are just endless with Twitter.
And the costs doesn’t have to be through the roof. You set the budget on daily spend and lifetime spend. So, if you have $10 or $10,000 you can use Twitter advertising.
Another channel you shouldn’t let pass you up.
One quick idea on how to use it…Twitter allows you to target people who like a certain TV show. If you know your customers are fans of a certain show or you want to target people who like a particular show then use that targeting and your creativeness to attract them.
For example, let’s say you sell wine or work in the wine industry or your customers like wine. You can target people who watch Scandal. Olivia Pope (the lead character) loves to drink wine when she unwinds from a long day of covering up politicians dirt and dealing with her daily momma drama.
That is a perfect way of getting in front of the fellow wine drinkers. You could even be a wine bar or bar that serves the sophisticated wine drinker. Get an ad with a picture of Olivia drinking a glass of red wine. Use clever content. Make them an offer even Olivia couldn’t refuse and bam! You could have a hit.
5. Remarketing & Retargeting
Remarketing, or retargeting as some might reference it as, is an advertising option that everyone should take advantage of. The best definition of remarketing is a little piece of code that put on your website. You can put it throughout your website or one specific pages.
So, when someone visits your website, no matter the source of the traffic…it could be from Facebook organically or a Google search or LinkedIn or Twitter or a referral partner. The code will shoot off a cookie to be placed in the browser. The cookie will then register data to the advertising portal that the code is associated with, which can be Facebook, Google, or Twitter…almost all advertising platforms have retargeting code or pixels.
The data will aggregate a list of people who have visited your site and visited specific pages on your site. You can build lists out for people who have down certain activities on your page..like reading a blog post or looking at an opt-in, but not taking action.
The key to remarketing is building those audiences, which you can do with the help of the other advertising campaigns.
For example, let’s say you wrote a blog posts specifically targeting mom’s who just had a baby who graduated from UCLA. You could call the blog 5 Eco-Friendly Products New Mom’s Who Graduated From UCLA Can’t Live Without.
You set it up on Facebook as a dark post. On the blog you add the pixels to track the audience. You also have calls to actions placed inside the post to have links to the 5 products page on your website.
The person goes to the blog post, they read it, love it, but get distracted and move on to a cat video on Facebook. That’s ok because you have a remarketing ad that follows them on Facebook. The ad is reminding them about the products.
You can also create custom audiences in Facebook and Twitter to target ads about something you might have pushed in a recent email blast.
You can build custom audiences by plugging in the email addresses of the people on your list for either Facebook or Twitter. So, if you make an offer in an email for a product or service, you can remind them about the offer on Facebook and Twitter with the retargeting ad.
You can setup pixels for Google Remarketing that will follow people who visit certain pages on your website. For example, if someone goes to a service page on your website. An ad can follow them around the web reminding them of the service you offer them.
Remarketing increases conversion rates up to 70%. Not a bad number to play around with.
You can setup the payment structure to pay per click. So, you are only paying for the people who click on the ad, which is a fantastic model…as long as your offer is converting.
The amount of people using remarketing ads are still by comparison low. You would be at an advantage to consider using a good portion of your advertising mulla on remarketing.
People who visit your site are more likely than anyone else to convert than someone new to your brand and website.
What have you tried and seen results in? I’d love to hear back from you peeps.
5 ways voice is changing the SEO game
(TECH NEWS) As voice assistants take over our lives, you may worry how your SEO fares in this new, uncharted territory. Let’s discuss.
SEO is a moving target. The standards change constantly so, despite years of experience, many web designers struggle to meet all the optimization guidelines. How, then, can any business confidently approach the web design process? It starts with recognizing those evolving norms, the newest of which is voice search.
Why Voice Search Matters
For years, the dominant SEO rule has been mobile first. The introduction of voice recognition systems, like Siri and Alexa, to smartphones has dramatically changed how we interact with devices. In fact, 20% of Google searches are voice searches with that number expected to grow rapidly over the next few months. Businesses and web designers, then, need to make sure their sites are voice ready if they want to stay relevant. Though the sites may stay the same visually, they need to gain a new edge functionally.
From The Ground Up
Modifying your website to support voice search isn’t as simple as many other SEO transitions, but if you take a ground up approach to the process, you’ll be able to reshape your website around those changes. Still, you’ll need help to do this correctly. When adapting your website for voice, SEO consultant Aaron Rains recommends hiring an expert for a full site audit and analysis to maintain your page ranking. You don’t want your page to take a rankings hit because you’re trying to keep up with the trends.
Expanding Your Device Options
In addition to its advantages from a mobile perspective, making the move to voice search also means expanding your site’s horizons by making it more accessible to new devices, particularly the smart home speakers that are gaining in popularity. Users are particularly comfortable with these devices because they rely on natural speech patterns rather than half-formed search terms. Children growing up with these smart speakers in their homes seem to view them as part of the family and will be native voice search users as they grow.
Snippets For Search
Part of updating your website for speech is optimizing the content to match changing search patterns. One of the key ways to do this is through the use of featured snippets.
Featured snippets are designed to help put your website in the #0 spot – the top ranking. To do that, you’ll want to put the answers to your most popular queries in the first few sentences on your page. This is especially for purchasing and local search since people frequently use voice search to find local businesses. If you can optimize for the most important snippets early on, you’ll be way ahead on the competition and have a greater ROI.
Rebuild and Reassess
After modifying your website for voice, you may find your rankings initially drop. That’s because you need to request your site be re-indexed. Otherwise, search engines won’t be able to match queries with your new site content. Re-indexing will put all of your new information into effect and make it possible for users to search using the featured snippets. Re-indexing your site will also help you ensure that you haven’t interfered with the crawl-ability of your site.
Experts expect half of all searches to be voice-driven by 2020, but since 50% of users with voice search access already use it at least occasionally, now is the time to act. Even if many users are still wary of voice search, you can’t afford to fall behind. Those users will still be able to rely on traditional text search mechanisms, but that won’t help voice enthusiasts. If you lose those early adopters now, they might not come back when you’ve caught up with the voice search revolution.
How to use offline marketing to your advantage in a digital world
(BUSINESS) We often become obsessed with new marketing strategies, favoring the internet over some traditional methods that continue to drive traffic timelessly.
Everywhere you look, people want to talk about digital marketing. In fact, if you don’t have a digital marketing strategy in today’s business world, you’re not going to last long. But just because digital marketing is popular, don’t assume that offline marketing no longer yields value.
When used together, these strategies can produce significant returns.
“Some people will argue that traditional marketing is dead, but there are several benefits to including offline advertising in your overall marketing campaign,” sales expert Larry Myler admits. “Combining both offline and online campaigns can help boost your brand’s visibility, and help it stand out amongst competitors who may be busy flooding the digital space.”
How do you use offline marketing in a manner that’s both cost-effective and high in exposure? While your business will dictate how you should proceed, here are a few offline marketing methods that still return considerable value in today’s marketplace.
1. Yard signs
When most people think about yard signs, their minds immediately go to political signs that you see posted everywhere during campaign season. However, yard signs have a lot more utility and value beyond campaigning. They’re actually an extremely cost-effective form of offline advertising.
The great thing about yard signs is that you can print your own custom designs for just dollars and, when properly stored, they last for years. They’re also free to place, assuming you have access to property where it’s legal to advertise. This makes them a practical addition to a low-budget marketing campaign.
The fact that you notice billboards when driving down an interstate or highway is a testament to the reality that other people are also being exposed to these valuable advertisements. If you’ve never considered implementing billboards into your marketing strategy, now’s a good time to think about it.
With billboard advertising, you have to be really careful with design, structure, and execution. “Considering we’re on the move when we read billboards, we don’t have a lot of time to take them in. Six seconds has been touted as the industry average for reading a billboard,” copywriter Paul Suggett explains. “So, around six words is all you should use to get the message across.”
3. Promotional giveaways
It’s the tangible nature of physical marketing that makes it so valuable. Yard signs and billboards are great, but make sure you’re also taking advantage of promotional giveaways as a way of getting something into the hands of your customers.
Promotional giveaways, no matter how simple, generally produce a healthy return on investment. They increase brand awareness and recall, while giving customers positive associations with your brand. (Who doesn’t love getting something for free?)
4. Local event sponsorships
One aspect of offline marketing businesses frequently forget about is local event sponsorships. These sponsorships are usually cost-effective and tend to offer great returns in terms of audience engagement.
Local event sponsorships can usually be found simply by checking the calendar of events in your city. Any time there’s a public event, farmer’s market, parade, sporting event, concert, or fundraiser, there’s an opportunity for you to get your name out there. Look for events where you feel like your target audience is most likely to attend.
Offline marketing is anything but dead.
If your goal is to stand out in a crowded marketplace where all your competitors are investing heavily in social media, SEO, PPC advertising, and blogging, then it’s certainly worth supplementing your existing digital strategy with traditional offline marketing methods that reach your audience at multiple touchpoints.
The science behind using pictures of people in marketing to convert more leads
(MARKETING) People fear using their picture in social networking profiles, but we make the case not only for using pictures of yourself, but of scrapping stock graphics for photos of people that studies show improve conversion rates in marketing.
To avatar or not to avatar?
After all of these years of people using the web, the debate continues about whether or not people should use their headshots as their profile pictures and avatars on their blogs and their social networks. Many people are uncomfortable with the way they look in photos, and some are never satisfied with their picture, so they settle for their company logo, a cartoon image, or a random photo to share something about who they are. While some believe the argument is subjective, we would argue otherwise.
It is advisable to use a photo of yourself as your profile picture wherever you go, no matter how unsatisfied you are and how uncomfortable. There are many reasons from making it easier to connect with people offline after talking online, to giving people a better way to connect with you, but a personal side has become expected on social networks and blogs, making a profile picture culturally mandatory.
Throw culture out of the window
So let’s say you’re still uncomfortable advertising your face. I personally hate every picture of me taken since I was 11 and had a bad perm, I get it. Profile pictures can send some people into full fledged panic, and at that point, who cares if web culture dictates a photo?
You should, and here’s why… science.
Science? Yep. Any parent knows intuitively, and scientists have studied for years that babies love pictures of other babies, and part of socializing a child is giving them books with pictures of other babies to connect with, learn from, and see other ethnicities. Babies love looking at other babies, it helps them connect and learn, and believe it or not, many studies show that we don’t evolve past that point in our lives, so, adults love looking at other adults.
If that isn’t enough to convince you to use a profile picture, a recent study shows that a website’s conversion rate can be skyrocketed by using human faces. According to KISSmetrics.com, using human faces “get your prospects to focus more and this causes them to draw towards a common point of interest. It doesn’t get more real than that.”
The company cites an A/B test on Medalia.net, an online art shop, which presented paintings from artists on their homepage, and during testing, they swapped out the photos of the paintings with photos of the artists hoping to increase user engagement. KISSmetrics said, “Making this small but relevant change sent their conversion rate through the roof – something they didn’t expect. Their site experienced a whopping 95% increase in conversions!.”
Reading between the lines
Using a photo in your profile pictures is important, it allows people to connect with you, just like babies connect with other babies through photos, and website viewers are converted by human photos. But, read between the lines here – using photos of people in marketing is a concept as old as the idea of marketing, and your using people in your blog photos and marketing can improve your conversion over outdated stock graphics. There are legal ways to obtain photos of people (through creative commons), and using photos of your own can have the most meaningful impact.
Whether you’re nervous to share your face with the world or not, web culture dictates that you should and studies show that a percentage of people distrust social networkers without a face shot. Independent of all of that, conversion rates improve when people see other people, as it is easier to connect with over stock graphics or abstract images, so take a leap of faith and put your picture out there, and while you’re at it, try to find ways of using photos of humans in your marketing and blogs.
Just remember – babies love looking at pictures of babies, and we’re all just babies when you boil it down.
This story originally ran here on March 6, 2012.
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